(ATTN: CHANGES headline and lead; ADDS details throughout)
SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) — South Korea reported 54 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, the second straight day of fewer than 100 cases, with health authorities on alert over a possible spike in infections following the Chuseok holiday.
Of the total, 38 were local infections and the rest imported cases, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The country’s total caseload has risen to 24,476.
Daily infections bounced back to 114 on Wednesday after rising by double digits the previous six days. But the daily cases fell back to double digits on Thursday.
Health authorities have warned that the country could see an uptick in COVID-19 cases after the five-day Chuseok holiday that ran through Sunday.
The government urged people to stay home during the fall harvest holiday, but around 30 million people are estimated to have traveled across the nation to visit their family members and relatives during the holiday.
Adding to concerns, a three-day break began on Friday, a national holiday marking the invention of the Korean alphabet of hangeul. The country had earlier designated a special two-week period for toughened anti-virus measures until Sunday.
Of the newly identified local infections, 17 cases were reported in Seoul and nine cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported no additional cases.
The number of newly identified imported cases came to 16, up from nine a day earlier. Of them, there were seven cases from the United States, two each from Indonesia and the Philippines and one each from India, the Netherlands, Mexico, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The country’s total number of imported cases is now at 3,350
There was one additional death from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 428. The fatality rate was 1.75 percent.
The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 94 as of midnight, down from 97 a day earlier.
The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 22,569, up 106 from the previous day, with 1,479 people isolated for COVID-19 treatment, down 53 from a day ago.
The country has carried out 2,400,233 coronavirus tests since Jan. 3.
Daily infections peaked at 441 on Aug. 27, days after cluster infections were found to be linked to a Seoul church and an anti-government rally in the capital on Aug. 15.
With tightened social distancing imposed on the greater Seoul area for weeks, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has been hovering around 100 since early September.
The 38 new cases Tuesday marked the fewest since Aug. 11, when the country reported 34 additional infections.